Ballot measure is not about ‘proportional representation’

(Regarding article, “Rep. Issa downplays role in California initiative,” Nov. 1.) Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is incorrect when he describes the ballot initiative that would change how California’s electoral votes for presidential elections are allocated as “proportional representation.”

The ballot measure would allocate one elector to the winner of the vote in each congressional district, as well as two more electors to the winner of the statewide vote, but this is not the same as proportional representation.

A proportional system would award California’s 55 electoral votes in direct proportion to the statewide vote received by each candidate; in essence, each 1.8 percent of the vote would get a candidate an elector. A district system awards one vote to the winner of each district, plus two more to the winner of the statewide vote. Gerrymandering can make a district system highly non-proportional. Extreme gerrymandering would allow a candidate who gets only 26 percent of the statewide vote to get more than half of the electors, a distinctly non-proportional result.

Both Maine and Nebraska use a district system, but the results have never been proportional to their respective statewide votes. Because of their demographics, in each of those states one major candidate or the other has always received all of the electoral votes.

For the record, my organization, Californians for Electoral Reform (not to be confused with Electoral Reform California, the organization behind the district allocation initiative), favors electing the president based on the national popular vote. This can be done without abolishing the Electoral College.

Mountain View, Calif.

Reasonable road to fuel economy
From Rodney E. Slater, chairman, Driving America’s Future

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) clearly outlines the fuel economy argument in his Oct. 26 op-ed, “Senate CAFE plan goes too far.” Terry and Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.) understand that America must make significant changes to our fuel economy standards, but we must do so in a reasonable, attainable way. Their bill, HR 2927, sets bold but balanced CAFE standards at a rate the auto industry can achieve.

HR 2927 will increase standards to between 32 and 35 miles per gallon, but maintain separation between cars and light trucks. The bill will focus more resources on advanced technologies and alternative fuels. With the auto industry currently investing $17 billion in research, Congress should support these efforts, not force regulations on redesigning engines.

This energy debate should look to the future to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to reduce gas emissions. As members of the House and Senate work to finalize energy legislation, they must not overlook the bipartisan, attainable Hill-Terry bill. With 172 bipartisan cosponsors, it is easy to see that HR 2927 is the right way to improve fuel economy and meet our energy needs.